Canadian luxury apparel sales saw a rebound in 2021 but not enough to return to pre-pandemic sales levels, according to a new report by Trendex North America, a marketing research and consulting firm.
The report indicated sales reached almost $2.4 billion last year which was a 12 per cent hike over 2020, a year where sales dipped by 21.8 per cent from 2019.
And Trendex is forecasting sales to continue to climb by 15.2 per cent year-over-year in 2022 with solid growth in the coming years, reaching over $3.2 billion in sales by 2026.
The Trendex report said any forecast of luxury apparel sales from 2022-2027 has to be based on the assumption that there will be no pandemic-related shopping restrictions and that, at a minimum by early 2023 foreign tourism will revert to 2019 levels. With these caveats in mind, Trendex is forecasting an average increase of 4.75 per cent in luxury apparel sales during the period 2023-2026.
Randy Harris, president and owner of Trendex North America, said the luxury market is in the process of returning to pre-pandemic levels.
“The only thing that’s holding back the growth right now of the luxury apparel market is the fact that many tourists, especially from Asia, are still not coming into the country and they’re a very important segment of the luxury market,” he said.
“Otherwise, the market itself is improving and about the only thing that could throw a wrench into it is the downturn in the economy or a drastic drop in consumer confidence. But I am very optimistic about the growth of the luxury apparel market in Canada. It should grow probably two to three times faster each year going forward than the total apparel market.”
Harris said many things are driving that growth including more young people purchasing more luxury apparel. Also some new flagship stores are acting as a magnet to draw people.
“You’ve got the growth of luxury athleisure apparel which is a whole new category that’s been exploding over the last couple of years but recently moreso,” he said.
“The only thing that I see as a current drag on it is the sale of luxury men’s apparel, suits and sportcoats. There’s no growth in that market right now at all. That’s one of the reasons retailers like Harry Rosen have moved so dramatically to push their casual wear sales because formal dress apparel is not a growth market right at the moment.”
But Harris said he’s very, very optimistic about the luxury side of the apparel market. It was hard hit in 2020 when the market dropped 22 per cent but it came back by 12 per cent last year with 15 per cent growth this year.
“These are good numbers and the market has really turned around,” he said.
The Trendex report said the growth in the 2021 Canadian luxury apparel market was due to a number of factors:
- Shopping restrictions being lifted by the second half of the year:
- Luxury accessories sales outstripping the growth of luxury apparel;
- An increase in luxury activewear sales, a relatively new category;
- The increase in e-commerce luxury apparel sales; and
- An increase in mono luxury apparel flagship stores.
While these factors all contributed to luxury apparel sales growth they were offset by:
- A continuing reduced level of foreign tourists. In 2020 the number of foreign (non US) tourists fell 84.4 per cent. Last year the number of foreign tourists was 86.8 per cent less than 2019. While over the same two-year period, tourist visits from China (-94.4 per cent), Hong Kong (-91.5 per cent) and Japan (-95.2 per cent) decreased even more;
- Continued poor sales of men’s luxury dress apparel (e.g. Nordstrom Canada); and
- Increased sales of pre-owned luxury apparel sales, such as those sold by LXRandCo.
Those who own businesses that focus on these poor performing items in this industry should consider insuring their businesses against losses, sooner rather than later. General business and wholesale insurance will provide huge benefits that can protect against liability in the current climate.
During 2022 – 2027 Trendex forecasts that:
- Holt Renfrew will continue to increase its share as a result of its emphasis on concessions;
- Harry Rosen share will increase as a result of its luxury casualwear sales and its new private label;
- Monobrand luxury apparel stores will increase their share at the expense of multi-brand luxury apparel retailers including Nordstrom and Hudson’s Bay;
- New foreign retailers including Lafayette 148 and Alexander Wang will continue to enter the market;
- Luxury apparel sales growth will be minimally twice that for the total Canadian apparel market;
- Luxury apparel consumers will focus increasingly on sustainability and ethical products; and
- Odds at 50/50 that Saks Fifth Avenue will exit Canada sometime during the next five years.